|(NC A&T Aggies photo)|
Tarik Cohen, North Carolina A&T
The diminutive back from Bunn started last season on the bench, carrying the ball just 22 times in the first four games. His breakout performance came in Week Five against Hampton where he exploded for 299 total yards (180 rushing, 119 receiving) and two touchdowns. Cohen rushed for 100-plus yards in five of A&T’s last seven games in 2013, including a season-high 210 against FAMU. When the dust settled, Cohen rushed for a league-high 1,148 yards in 11 games.
Needless to say, Cohen enters 2014 as the key cog in an NC A&T offense that will be key if the program hopes to end its MEAC drought.
Jorrian Washington, Hampton
The “old man” on this list, Washington actually started 2013 as a wide receiver. Washington didn’t see his first action in the backfield until the Hampton game, but paid immediate dividends as he rushed for 85 yards and caught a touchdown pass. Washington would rush for 115-plus yards in his next three games, finishing the season with just under 700 yards rushing with an average of six yards per carry.
The Los Angeles native is probably the best all-around back on this list, as he caught 32 passes and is a dangerous kick returner, averaging over 24 yards per return in 2013. If Hampton is to make the turnaround that many expect them to make in 2014, Washington will be a key component.
Anthony Philyaw, Howard
Philyaw was only the second leading rusher on his team, but he’s already one of the MEAC’s best backs. Like Cohen, Philyaw didn’t set the world on fire his first couple of games, but his confidence seemed to grow with every carry. Philyaw turned in three 100 yard-plus performances in 2013, including two in a row to finish the season vs. Texas Southern and Hampton. Add in a 98 yard, 3 touchdown performance against Morgan State for homecoming and there’s plenty of home for Howard heading into 2014.
|(Suffolk News Herald Photo)|
Lamont Brown, Morgan State
Another first-year success story. Brown’s carries at Morgan State weren’t always consistent, but he made the most of them. Brown rushed for 708 yards, good for sixth in the MEAC. He only has one 100-yard game, but rushed for more than 75 yards in half of the 12 games he played in.
Greg McGhee, Howard
The quarterback ran for nearly 900 yards last season.